Erik ten Hag responds to Pep Guardiola claiming Man Utd boss could have succeeded him
Manchester City’s manager has entered the final year of his contract at the club and acknowledged the man in the opposition dugout at the Etihad on Sunday would have been in the running to replace him
Erik ten Hag insists he made the right choice going to Manchester United – despite having been in the frame to succeed Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Ten Hag and Guardiola go head-to-head in the Manchester derby on Sunday, after the City boss had endorsed the Dutchman as his potential successor when he steps down.
That door has now closed with Ten Hag at United, but he said he has no regrets at taking on the challenge there, rather than waiting to succeed Guardiola – who is in the final year of his contract. Asked about Guardiola’s claim that he could have followed him at City, Ten Hag said: “That’s a nice compliment, first.
“But I choose, 100 percent convinced, Manchester United, with everything in it. I didn’t regret it for one second.” Ten Hag worked with Guardiola, at Bayern Munich, from 2013 to 2015, but said he remains his own coach with his own philosophy, despite his admiration for the City boss.
“First of all, it’s most important that no person is the same,” said Ten Hag. “So I have to stick by myself and then, I learn a lot from many human beings in football, especially from top coaches. I admire Pep a lot, because he’s not only successful, he’s doing it in a certain way that really attracts people to football and that’s a reward.”
Back in April, weeks before Ten Hag was confirmed as United’s new boss, Guardiola praised his fellow coach and said the 52-year-old had the credentials to take over from him at City. “Could Erik Ten Hag be here at City?” said Guardiola. “Definitely. I think he could be the one, for the way he approaches the game.”
Meanwhile, Ten Hag has backed his under-fire skipper Harry Maguire, after the United defender’s miserable season continued on England duty. Maguire, who has lost his United place, gave away a penalty in England’s 3-3 draw with Germany and suffered a hamstring injury which has ruled him out of the derby. “I back him because I believe in him,” said Ten Hag. “The period I worked with him in pre-season was good, really good, training and in games.
“Then he fell out (of favour) – but it’s also to do with the good performances of the centre-backs who are playing now, but I can see, even after he wasn’t in the team, he trained really well, but more importantly, the quality was there. The players in the dressing room, the coaches, the manager, we all believe in him. Now it is about him. That’s what I told him. I’m sure he can do it. He will turn this around. I’m really convinced of that.”
On Sunday’s derby showdown, Ten Hag said: “I played many derbies and I know derbies – what they are, what the rivals are, what they are doing. I know it’s the most important game in the Manchester area for the fans and it excites me. You want to be involved in these games because it’s such a good vibe, it gives you so much energy and we will do everything to win the game.” Ten Hag also gave his verdict on striker Erling Haaland, who has 14 goals in nine games, and added: “We don’t play against Haaland, we play against Manchester City. They have a team, [with a squad] more than 11 players, but we also, we are convinced of our capabilities and, if we act as a team in and out of possession, we can beat opponents.”